Back in the day, the World’s Fair was a global showcase of innovation and a peerless cultural event where visitors envisioned a neon future filled with technological wonders. These international expos featured miracle inventions and opportunities to explore new ideas, but also on display were useless gizmos, silly stunts (who’s ready for a game of topless donkey ping pong?), and some of the most unattractive towers people have ever built. Worse yet, a dismal thread of racism runs through the history of fairs, and in recent times, faux sustainability has become a recurring theme. Explore the diminishing marginal returns of both World’s Fairs and technology in general, and consider what’s next as dreams of a high-tech utopia go the way of the animatronic dinosaurs. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.


Jason Bradford

I’m Jason Bradford.

Asher Miller

I’m Asher Miller.

Rob Dietz

And I’m Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where your favorite ride at the amusement park is the self-driving bumper cars.

Melody Travers

This is producer Melody Travers. In this season of Crazy Town, Rob, Jason, and Asher are exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today’s episode is about World’s Fairs, the diminishing returns of technology, and bizarre notions of progress. The watershed moment took place in 1851. At the time, the estimated carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 285 parts per million, and the global human population was 1.24 billion.

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